Chapter eight resumes where chapter six ended, with the opening of the seventh seal. The traditional understanding is that the trumpets described in chapters 8-9 are connected to the seventh seal. However, there seems to be a parallel between the fifth seal with the prayers of the saints on the altar (Revelation 8:3-4) and the sixth seal with some of the trumpet judgments. The trumpets of chapter eight will have physical effects on the earth and sky. How long these each of these effects last and if they overlap is not stated, but they seem to be literal events that also preview even worse judgments later (chapter 16).
The first trumpet will result in hail and fire (similar to the seventh plague on Egypt, Exodus 9:23-24), “so that a third of the earth…a third of the trees…and all the green grass was burned up” (Revelation 8:7).
The second trumpet will result in “a third of the sea” turning to blood, affecting a third of all sea life and a third of naval commerce. As the third trumpet will show, this judgment will be specific to saltwater seas.
The third trumpet will affect fresh water as the second trumpet did saltwater. This will be similar to the first plague on Egypt, when the Nile River turned to blood (Exodus 7:19), except rather than turning to blood, one-third of all fresh water will be poisoned.
The fourth trumpet will affect the celestial bodies. Following the pattern established by the first three trumpets, a third of all natural light will be affected, as the sun will be somehow diminished. Scholars debate whether this will be the result of a change in the rotation of the Earth itself, shortening the number of actual daylight hours, or an atmospheric condition that will limit the time light will be available.
The chapter ends noting a distinction between the first four trumpets and the last three. The upcoming trumpets are called “woes.”